Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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This week’s science experiment while drunk asks what happens when you light a match, place a glass over it, and then microwave it? [1:03]

Comments

  1. #1 Jeb, FCD
    June 25, 2007

    So, what’s going on in the glass?

  2. #2 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    June 25, 2007

    Disclaimer: I’ve never tried this myself, so my comments are based on the presumption that the video accurately reports the experiment.

    I would guess that smoke has a much higher absorption of microwaves than air, causing a positive feedback cascade of combustion.

  3. #3 katchaya
    June 25, 2007

    This is the best blog ever !!!!!

  4. #4 daedalus2u
    June 25, 2007

    It looks authentic.

    It isn’t the smoke, it is the flame. A flame is electrically conductive due to the ions in it, so it absorbs microwaves and gets hotter. A microwave oven puts out a kW or so, which is a lot of power to attempt to confine to a glass.

    This can be damaging to the microwave. What can happen is that non-linearities in the discharge produce higher harmonics which get reflected back into the microwave tube and amplified. The tube can then overheat or even break. When you get discharges, you have inherently nonlinear phenomena. You can get reflections which essentially double the electric field. If the air breaks down around the microwave tube, it could easily damage it.

  5. #5 Library Diva
    June 25, 2007

    Well, I wouldn’t try it at home, but I do think that’s pretty kick-ass. I just hope that microwave doesn’t belong to their landlord. Or one of their mothers.

  6. #6 Bob O'H
    June 25, 2007

    …and in next week’s lesson we’ll ask why the hell that was done for the first time.

    Bob

  7. #7 Luna_the_cat
    June 25, 2007

    I wouldn’t trust the shielding on the microwave much after that, either.

    But then, would chromosome damage in that lot show up?

  8. #8 Bob O'H
    June 25, 2007

    I wouldn’t trust the shielding on the microwave much after that, either.

    After that, I would imagine that the feeling would be mutual.

    Bob

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